June 23, 2017  

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Keats 2017 Book Award Winners Honored, Inspired by Recognition

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Ellen Ruffin, left, curator of USM's de Grummond Children's Book Collection, joins in the presentation of the annual Ezra Jack Keats Book Awards to Stacy McAnulty (Keats Book Award Honor), Jeri Watts (Book Award Winner/New Writer) and Micha Archer (Book Award Winner/New Illustrator), along with Dr. Deborah Pope of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. (USM photo by Kelly Dunn)

Five children's literature authors and illustrators earned prestigious recognition for their work at the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award ceremony April 6 during the The University of Southern Mississippi’s 50th annual Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival.

The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award recognizes promising new authors and artists in the field of children’s literature and is given by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, which was founded by the late award-winning children’s book author and illustrator. The EJK Book Award was co-presented by the New York Public Library from 1986 to 2011. Since 2012, the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at USM has co-presented the award at the Children’s Book Festival.

Since 1985, the de Grummond Collection has been the home of the Ezra Jack Keats Archive, which includes manuscripts, typescripts, sketches, dummies, illustrations, and proofs for Ezra Jack Keats’ books.

This year’s winners included EJK Book Award/New Writer, Jeri Watts, for A Piece of Home and Micah Archer, EJK Book Award/New Illustrator, for Daniel Finds a Poem.

The EJK Book Award Honor for New Writer went to Stacy McAnulty for Excellent Ed; for EJK Book Award Honor for New Illustrator, Daisy Hirst for The Girl with the Parrot on Her Head; and the EJK Book Award Honor for New Writer and Honor for New Illustrator, Francesca Sanna for The Journey.

Watts, a longtime educator who teaches at Lynchburg College in Virginia, said she is inspired to “wear this honor with pride from every minute on, and try to represent the foundation and its namesake as well as I can.”

Archer described the award as “a ticket to keep creating.” “I feel like it’s a message that says I can do it, I’m worthy and have a lot of support and that I’m not doing it alone,” she said.

For information about the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org.